Obama shows support for loosening state ACA requirements

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President Obama told visiting governors at the White House on Monday that he would support proposed legislation that would allow states to opt out of Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements--such as the individual mandate--three years earlier if they can find other effective ways to offer insurance coverage to their citizens.

In particular, Obama expressed support for a bipartisan bill sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) that would permit states to request permission from the Department of Health and Human Services to establish their own healthcare systems starting in 2014 (rather than 2017)--as long as they meet minimum standards determined by the federal government.

"I think that's a reasonable proposal. I support it. It will give you flexibility more quickly," Obama told the governors, who were in Washington for their annual winter meeting. "If your state can create a plan that covers as many people as affordably and comprehensively as the [ACA] does--without increasing the deficit--you can implement that plan. And we'll work with you to do it."

One provider group, the American College of Physicians, expressed its support for President's action. The proposed legislation "recognizes that states differ greatly in their cultures and traditions and should be encouraged to try what works best for them as long as their residents would get the comparable coverage and consumer protections," ACP President J. Fred Ralston Jr., MD, said in a statement.

For more details:
- see the White House Feb. 28 Fact Sheet
- read President Obama's comments before the governors
- check out the ACP's comments

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